From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: Tribute to San Francisco AIDS Foundation Executive Director Pat Christen

October 5, 2004

Washington D.C. - "Mr. Speaker, tonight in my district, community leaders will gather to pay tribute to the work of Pat Christen, Executive Director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation for the past 15 years. I want to join in expressing my admiration and gratitude for Pat's outstanding leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS in San Francisco, across America, and around the world.

"Pat has effectively and enthusiastically led the San Francisco AIDS Foundation through some of the most difficult times of the epidemic. She is the longest serving Executive Director of an AIDS service organization in the nation and has established a remarkable legacy.

"In 1988, after returning from Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer and volunteering with the Foundation's hotline, Pat was named the Foundation's first director of public policy. Within a year, she gathered colleagues from across the nation to address the growing crisis of caring for the thousands of people with AIDS who were critically ill and had no means of support.

"Those initial discussions laid the foundation for the Ryan White CARE Act. I was an original co-sponsor of that legislation, and joined Congressman HENRY WAXMAN, Senator EDWARD KENNEDY and many of our colleagues who worked with Pat and community leaders from across the country to ensure swift passage. The CARE Act has proven to be one of the most significant public health achievements of the Congress in the past 15 years. Declines in AIDS deaths are a direct result of the therapies and services that have been made more widely available through the CARE Act to large numbers of uninsured and under-insured people with HIV and AIDS.

"Pat's courage and competence later drew San Francisco to the forefront of the fight for effective needle exchange programs. When most leaders were intimidated by this innovative and controversial approach, Pat led the charge to city hall and Sacramento to put needle exchange in our HIV prevention strategy. Pat and others in San Francisco were also early to see that mobilization against this pandemic had to be international. She founded Pangaea, the global affiliate of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, to apply San Francisco's experience as a leader in the domestic fight against HIV/AIDS to the global crisis. Through Pat's vision and leadership, Pangaea has brought hope and care to thousands of Africans facing HIV/ADS.

"I have been proud to work with Pat and the San Francisco ADS Foundation over the years to ensure that HIV/ADS care, treatment, prevention, and research initiatives, domestically and internationally receive the funding they need, and to improve and strengthen those programs as the epidemic evolves.

"Pat Christen's leadership at the Foundation may be coming to an end, but her legacy will live on as the fight to end AIDS continues. Her success reminds us what community leadership can do. It inspires us to not only work effectively at the local level, but also to take responsibility to make change at the national and global level. I know I join many in saying that the world is a better place because Pat Christen graced it with her leadership, vision, and integrity."

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